30 October 2015

The Fabric of India

Running from 3 October 2015 – 10 January 2016, 'The Fabric of India' is an exhibition at the V&A which forms a part of their India Festival. It is the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic and multifaceted world of handmade textiles from India from the 3rd to the 21st century.

The exhibition will showcase the best of the Victoria and Albert Museum's world-renowned collection, as well as masterpieces from international partners and leading designers, incorporating in total over 200 objects. A lot of these items will be on display for the first time and will take in a range of historic dress, heirloom fabrics, and cutting-edge fashion.

Indian fabrics have forever been symbolic, whether that be of wealth, status or religion. Courtly splendour was shown by wearing sumptuous fabrics, while religious worship is still represented by sacred cloths. 

Today, young designers are adapting traditional making techniques to create exciting new fashion, art and design, and one of those designers is Geeta Handa of C-Atomic, a dealer, designer and artist, who is based within Vintage Modes at Grays. 

A British Asian designer and artist, Geeta has created a stunning collection of modern, vintage style pieces, using classic Indian fabrics. She has been Influenced by both her Indian and British heritage and each unique garment has been designed to be a combination of timeless ethnic fabrics and iconic western vintage silhouettes.

A vibrant mix of royal Benares handloom silks, Zardosi artisan embroidery work, Jhodpuri blue Jute, Buta (Paisley) Jacquards, Rajasthani Shisha (mirror) work and handcrafted embroidery is incorporated into both garments and accessories.

Black velour Indian fabric waistcoat, with gold and silver embroidery and gold piping.
Indian Benares silk pussy-bow blouse with woolen skirt

Chiffon Mix 'Bardot' Dress

C-Atomic, based within Vintage Modes
Grays Mews, lower-ground floor

All pieces available to view online: www.graysantiques.com/dealerDetail.php?dealer=547

07961 506 777 / geetahanda.c@gmail.com

23 October 2015


Halloween is a yearly festival on the 31st of October, the eve of All Hallows' Day. It starts a three-day recognition of all hallow tide, the time in the liturgical year devoted to remembering the dead.

The customs and significance of Halloween vary in every culture. In Scotland and Ireland, customary customs include children dressing up in costumes going "guising", as well as holding gatherings, while different practices in Ireland incorporate lighting bonfires and having firework shows.

From the nineteenth century Halloween has been a major holiday in North America, and largely celebrated in the United States and Canada. This large North American impact, especially in iconic and commercial elements, has reached out around the globe and had a significant effect on how the occasion is seen in different nations.

There are various relics and symbols connected with Halloween. Amongst the most well known is the Jack-o'-lights. These are traditionally carried by guisers on Halloween evening with the purpose of frightening evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale connected with the jack-o'-lantern, which, in legend, is said to speak to a "spirit who has been denied passage into both heaven and hell".

Here is a round up of our favourite ghoulish jewellery and spooky objects at Grays:

Bourjois Evening in Paris Owl, available from Gillian Horsup

Diamond & Ruby Spider Brooch, 1940s. Avaliable from Minoo and Andre

1930s Cat, available from Linda Bee

Vintage Spider necklace, available from Linda Bee

Lea Stein Cat brooch, available from Marie Niemis

Vintage Lea Stein Cat Brooch, 1960s. Available from Linda Bee

16 October 2015

Green, White and Purple - Join the Sensation!

Suffragette jewellery is back! This week the film "Suffragette” was released, portraying the suffragette movement's fight for women's right to vote and for steps towards equality in the early 20th century.


However, the true reason behind why these three colours were chosen is still not entirely clear. One thing we do know is that the style of jewellery at the beginning of the 1900s was moving towards softer and more feminine colours and shapes, of which the rise of Art Nouveau is a perfect example. Gems such as tourmaline, amethyst, pearl, peridot, diamond and emerald, set in gold or silver, were very popular and this could have possibly influenced the choice in colour. Wearing these gems would allow women who wanted to demonstrate their support and commitment to do so discreetly.

Another suggestion is that Mrs Pethick-Lawrence, an activist and editor of the "Votes for Women" magazine, connected the colours to the cause by writing: "Purple [...] stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity; white stands for purity in private and public life; green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring."
Another well know explanation is that Emmeline and Chris­ta­bel Pankhurst, also famous activists within the movement, adopted the three colours as: Green = Give, White = Woman and Violet = Vote; which was the slogan of the movement. 

Whatever the reason or reasons behind it, suffragette jewellery is a very beautiful visual expression of historic courage and aesthetic delight and here at Grays we have some wonderful examples to offer.

9ct Yellow gold amethyst, peridot & pearl bangle, c1920s. Offered by Westminster Group at Grays.
A Victorian 15ct gold cabochon amethyst heart pendant surrounded by a border of double row split pearls. Offered by Spectrum.

Edwardian Double Heart Brooch set with Peridots & Natural Split Pearls, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company at Grays.

Fine gold enamelled asymmetric amethyst diamond and natural pearl pendant. 1890 - 1910. Offered by Rowan & Rowan at Grays.

2 October 2015

London Cocktail Week

Summer is over and autumn is upon us, one autumn event we are looking forward in particular is London Cocktail Week! This delightful event is held annually in October, this year it will run from 5 until 11, October. As the name suggests, you can expect a week of cocktail sampling at a multitude of venues dotted around the capital. These include bars, restaurants, pop-ups and street vendors who will serve some truly delicious creations.

Some might say this could result in a messy week of debauchery, but this is not the case, it’s a week dedicated to teaching people about the quality, not quantity of cocktails and their varied ingredients. Moderation is key. We'll certainly drink to that!

If you plan to create your own delectable cocktail concoction at home, Grays is the place to visit for unique cocktail apparatus.

A selection of cocktail shakers from the 1920s - 1930s, offered by Jack Podlewski

A stunning cocktail shaker with floral design, offered by Evonne Antiques

Set of fully hallmarked (Birmingham 1933) silver cocktail sticks with enamelled cockerels, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

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